Many, though not all, Calvinists have said the Southern Baptist Convention was founded by those who were strict 5-point Calvinists. Some have also said the term Traditional Baptists is a misnomer since Baptists of the 1800s were 5-point Calvinists and the Traditional view did not become prevalent until well into the 1900s.
Yes, many SBC leaders of the 1800s were strict 5-point Calvinists, but certainly not all. Traditionalists (also called non-Calvinists, Moderate Calvinists) form the large majority of Baptists today, and, contrary to some, they were well represented in the 1800s as well.
For example, Traditionalists were alive and well in Texas in 1840.
Founding of the Union Baptist Association (UBA) of Texas in 1840.
Historian Dr. Robert A. Baker tells of the formation of the first Baptist Association in Texas in 1840, and says of their articles of faith:
“The articles of faith modified the harsh Calvinism of the anti-missionary group. The sixth article read:
‘We believe that Christ died for sinners, and that the sacrifice which He made has so honored the divine law that the way of salvation is consistently opened up to every sinner to whom the gospel is sent, and that nothing but their own voluntary rejection of the gospel prevents their salvation.’”
-Robert A. Baker, The Blossoming Desert: A Concise History of Texas Baptists, Word Books; 1970. Baker was a longtime history professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
While the SBC was not formed until 1845, the UBA then immediately became a part of the SBC. The leaders in the formation of the UBA were leaders for years to come among Southern Baptists in Texas. The first UBA Executive Committee included T. W. Cox, R. E. B. Baylor, J. W. Collins, Z. N. Morrell, William H. Cleveland, James S. Davis, a Brother Yeamen of Montgomery County, and a Brother Andrews of Houston, probably S. P. Andrews.
Baylor University was named after R. E. B. Baylor. Z. N. Morrell was a very influential pastor in the early days of the Texas Republic and the State of Texas.
Clearly the early leaders of the UBA rejected the Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement. This is just one of many examples. So for those who think SBC Traditionalists are a product of the mid 1900s, actually they have been around throughout the history of the SBC, and well before.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 11, AD 2012.
“A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”
Books on Calvinism, Predestination
Q & A on SBC Conservative Resurgence, part 1
Paige Patterson on Calvinism
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